Hugoniot, Pierre Henri

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Hugoniot, Pierre Henri

(b. Allenjoie, Doubs, France, 5 June 1851; d. Nantes, France, February 1887)

mechanics, ballistics.

Hugoniot was the son of a mechanical engineer; his mother was Susanne Mardin. In 1868 he entered the École Polytechnique in Paris. After completing the two-year general course, he chose military engineering as his specialty and graduated in 1872 with an appointment to the naval artillery. He held a teaching post at the École d’Artillerie de la Marine in Lorient. In 1884, on the basis of his scientific work, Hugoniot—now a captain—was made répétiteur auxiliaire of mechanics at the École Polytechnique and, a year later, répétiteur.

Hugoniot’s first research, done with H. Sébert, concerned the effect of powder gases on the bore of a weapon (1882) and was based on the analysis of experimental materials. In 1884 he collaborated with Félix Hélie in preparing a reviwed and substantially enlarged edition of Hélie’s Traité de balistique expérimentale, first published in 1865.

In his research in ballistics, Hugoniot made use of the results of work he had done in the mechanics of gases, and it was through this work that he gained wide recognition as one of the creators of the contemporary theory of shock waves. His theory was published in an extensive two-part memoir (pt.1, 1887; pt. 2, 1889); its basic conclusions had been announced in a series of articles published in the Comptes rendus (1885–1886) of the Paris Academy.

Hugoniot’s earliest work on the mechanics of gases, written with Sébert in 1884, examined a one-dimensional discontinuous flow of gas under the limiting assumption that before and after the discontinuity of parameters of flow there occurs an adiabatic process (Poisson’s law). In 1885 Hugoniot developed, on a sufficiently general physical basis, the theory of discontinuous flows. It was the first theory to apply the law of conservation of energy in an obvious manner. The correspondence that he found between the pressure and the density of gas before and after discontinuity (the pressure jump)—which was called “Hugoniot’s adiabatic curve”—is one of the bases of modern shock-wave theory. In 1886 Hugoniot used these findings in his polemic with G. A. Hirn on the laws of the outflow of gas from a vessel. In his mathematical research on the propagation of the shock wave in gas, Hugoniot proceeded from Monge’s theory of characteristics, thus anticipating the contemporary method of analysis of supersonic aerodynamics.

These investigations had been preceded by Hugoniot’s studies with Sébert in 1882 on the longitudinal vibrations of elastic prismatic beams, produced by a blow, in which he described the propagation of the disturbances by means of recurrent determinate functions, each of which describes a wave process only in the course of a determinate time interval. These researches are related to his work in mathematical analysis (1882) on the expansion of functions in series according to other functions and of functions analogous to Legendre ploynomials.


I. Original Works. Hugoniot’s works, in collaboration with H. Sébert, include “Étude des effects de la poudre dans un canon de 10cm.,” in Mémorial de I’artillerie de la marine, X (Paris, 1882); “Sur les vibratins longitudinales des barres élastiques dont les extrémités sont soumises à des efforts quelconques,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de I’Académie des sciences, 95 (1882), 213–215, 278–281, 338–340; “Sur le choc longitudinal d’une tige élastique fixée par I’une de ses extrémités,” ibid., 381–384; “Sur les vibrations longitudinales des verges élastiques et le mouvement d’une tige portant à son extrémité une masse additionnelle,” ibid., 775–777; and “Sur la propagation d’un ébranlement uniforme dans un gaz renfermé dans un tuyau cylindrique,” ibid., 98 (1884), 507–509.

For Hugoniot’s other works, see “Sur le développement des fonctions en séries d’autres fonctions,” ibid., 95 (1882), 907–909; “Sur des fonctions d’une seule variable analogues aux polynômes de Legendre,” ibid., 983–985; Traité debalistique expérimentale, 2nd ed., 2 vols. (Paris, 1884), in collaboation with Hélie; “Sur la propagation du mouvement dans les corps et spécialement dans les gaz parfaits,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences, 101 (1885), 794–796; “Sur la propagation du mouvement dans un fluide indéfini,” ibid., 102 (1886), 1118–1120, 1229–1232; “Sur un théorème général relatif à la propagation du movement,” ibid.,102 (1886), 858–860; “Sur l’écoulement des gaz dans le cas du régime permanent,” ibid., 1545–1547; “Sur la pression qui existe dans la section contractée d’une veine gazeuse,” ibid., 103 (1886), 241–243; “Sur l’écoulement d’un gaz qui pénétre dans un récipient de capacité limitée,” ibid., 922–925; “Sur le mouvement varié d’un gaz comprimé dans un réservoir qui se vide librement dans l’atmosphère,” ibid., 1002–1004; “Sur un théorème relatif au mouvement peramnent et à l’écoulement des fluides,” ibid., 1178–1181; and “Sur l’écoulement des fluides élastiques,” ibid., 1253–1255.

For the full version of his memoirs on the mechanics of gas, see “Mémoire sur la propagation du mouvement dans les corps et spécialement dans les gaz parfaits,” in Journal de l’École polytechnique cahier 57 (1887), 3–97; cahier 58 (1889), 1–125.

II. Secondary Literature Inforamtion on Hugoniot may be found in Maurice Lévy, “Rapport sur les travauz de M. Hugoniot, capitaine d’artillerie de la marine, répétiteur de mécanique á l’École polytechnique” (17 mai 1886), MS in the Hugoniot papers in the Archives de l’Académie des Sciences, Paris. See also Z. Adamar, “Printsip Gyuygensa i teoria Yugono” (“Huygens’ Principle and Hugoniot’s theory”) in Trudy Pervogo Vsesoyuznogo sezda matematikov (Kharkov, 1930) (Moscow-Leningrad, 1936), pp. 280–283.

N. M. Merkoulova